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July 31, 2003

Cider House Rules

The stout poll is going fairly well, with about 100 total votes the last time I looked. All the polls will run through the middle of September, so I'm not going to declare a winner, but Guinness looks to have the race in hand. I was pulling for Stone Imperial Stout, but it's just as well that brand is doing as poorly as it is. I priced a 12 bottle case of the Stone at the beginning of the week, it was $99.

I buy a case at that price, no one's drinking it but me, which sort of undermines the whole point of taking good beer on the trip in the first place. What's the point of drinking good beer all alone?

The time and place for the good beer is at the end of day, sitting on the screen porch, watching the sun sink down over the sound, or perhaps in the morning, to take the edge off the caffeine demon. What to drink on the beach is a different matter entirely. Quality beer should be poured out of the bottle before it is partaken off, the beach is no place for glassware, and Solo cups get blown over by the wind or knocked over by the tide all too easily. The cups also don't fit well into the bait well of a rod holder, whereas bottle and cans fill that space admirably.

Ideally what we want for the beach is a drink whose qualities are not diminished if it has to remain in its original container. American macro-beers fit this description nicely, as they don't possess that many qualities to begin with. Natural, Miller, Michelob and Coors light were the big winners in that category on past trips, though of the four the Michelob went first and the Coors went last. Rolling Rock and Icehouse were also in evidence. Both ended up being leftover. I threw the last of them away a week ago.

But the American macro brew poll is yet to come. I drink cider. Cider goes down quick if all one wants is a quick snort before returning to the pole when there's a run on, the taste of it overcomes even the nastiest bait slime, and it doesn't mind staying in the bottle. I took a case of Woodpecker with me last year, then discovered that, lo and behold, if cider was available others also drank it. This year I'm taking two cases.

One thing to get out of the way. Despite the manner in which most grocers shelve it, cider is not in the same class as the hard lemonade, spiked tea, and various brand name liquor malt drinks. Those particular drinks are basically Zima with different flavors added.

And like Zima, they zuck. There won't be a poll for the alco-pops, which is the industry name for the Zima classes. We don't have a need for them, as none of us are underaged sorority girls, and the underaged sorority girls we invite on the trip in the weeks beforehand never seem to show up.

It's too bad. By the middle the week the cabin usually needs a good cleaning.

Cider, on the other hand, has a history. It was the most popular alcoholic beverage in colonial American, and is still very prevalent in Great Britain. Should any of our British readers wish to touch us on a deeply personal level, sending any of the above our way would be an excellent way to do so. Scrumpy would go even deeper.

Cider makers don't seem to realize that what they brew isn't an alco-pop, which is why so many of them now offer berry flavors. I can't imagine this helps their market share, so fifteen years from now there may be as few ciders available on grocery shelves as there were fifteen years ago, when there were none.

I had my first real cider at the age of eight or nine, in Chapel Hill's Rathskeller with my father. It's still served there, in iced mugs, though the alcohol content is negligible, if there's any at all. Once I was legal , I looked for a harder version of it for ten years before Woodchuck finally appeared on the market. I'm not going to be happy if it disappears again.

Besides, that's all Dad asks for when he and Mom come to visit, other than grandchildren. If I try and brew my own, I'll probably kill him with it.

Ten Beers Enter! One Beer Leaves! - Cider Bracket

Weston's Extra Dry
White Oak
Wyder's Apple Cider
Rock Creek Draft Cider
Woodchuck Dark & Dry
Ace Apple Honey
Dry Blackthorn Cider
Macbeth's Three Witches Hard Cider

I've also posted the Stout poll in case anyone would still like to cast a vote there. As I said above, all polls will run through September, so new ones will appear on the far left each week. The older a poll is, the farther it will be to the right.

The poll will appear here permanently, and over on the right until the next poll runs. All the polls will eventually appear here. Vote early and often. Write-ins will be counted, but only if they are in the style of the pool above. If anyone is upset by the omission of their favorite brand of cider, send us a six-pack, and we'll apologize profusely.

If the cider's good enough, we may even mean it.

Update: For those asking about Strongbow in the U.S, it can apparently be bought here. I've also removed the Stout poll. The more polls listed, the slower this page loads.

Posted by Bigwig at July 31, 2003 10:50 PM | TrackBack
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I have a feeling all the people voting Guinness haven't actually tried any of the other stouts. I voted for Sammy Smith's Oatmeal stout, which is my favorite, but Young's Double Chocolate stout is also very good. Murphy's leaves a strange soapy texture in the mouth, so I try to avoid it.

Posted by: eli at August 1, 2003 11:21 AM

I would advise against Young's Double Chocolate. Its very good first drink, but it gets to be a chore halfway through the can. Not a good drink for sitting outside fishing.

Posted by: Christine at August 1, 2003 11:48 AM

They make it in cans?

Posted by: eli at August 1, 2003 12:12 PM

where did you find strongbow in the us?

Posted by: tanya at August 1, 2003 01:20 PM

Try here, Tonya

Posted by: Bigwig at August 1, 2003 02:10 PM

Notice you didn't include Woodpecker on the list - better on draught, at The Smokehouse or Bird in Hand, anyhow.

Posted by: Wind Rider at August 2, 2003 04:51 PM

It was originally on the list, along with White Diamond, but I dropped both since I already had another cider from the companies that produce each on the list.

Also, I took Woodpecker last year. Part of the poll strategy is to try out beverages I hadn't had before, so if Woodpecker won, it would have been an essentially meaningless exercise.

And besides, I expect a six of the Woodpecker will go on the trip no matter what.

Posted by: bigwig at August 3, 2003 10:52 PM
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